Yahoo puts on an “Apt” display

Yahoo’s upgraded display advertising interface streamlines how digital ads are bought and placed across the Web.

The new APT system — previously called AMP — has been under development for at least two years.
APT has been one of Yahoo’s big projects undertaken to improve its mediocre financial performance and grab a larger slice of rising Internet advertising revenue.

Yahoo hastily previewed APT, then known as AMP, in April, as the company was under intense pressure caused by Microsoft’s acquisition attempt.

Yahoo said it would have a Web-based system in place to buy online ad space across some 600 newspapers and other online sites by July.

The system is designed to let publishers quickly find available ad space on their own sites for advertisers, and when none is available, on other sites. The system is “almost ready” and will be launched in the third quarter of this year, Yahoo said.

The APT Web site is short on details, but the company outlines its features.

APT aims to link Web site owners, advertisers and the agencies between them who sell ads. It’s an automated platform that gives advertisers a range of tools to control where ads should appear, what kind of Web surfers the ads should be shown to, and how much they are willing to pay.

But Yahoo’s AMT already faces a competing up-and-running service: Google’s PrintAds, which lets customers who are already buying contextual Web-based ads to also place ads in around 600 daily and weekly U.S. newspapers. PrintAds also offers ad-design tools.

APT will be the technology that will leverage a historic ad revenue-sharing agreement Yahoo made in November 2006 with U.S. newspaper publishers.

As part of the agreement, Yahoo provides search services, places job ads on its own HotJobs site and sells Web advertising. The deal was expanded one year ago, and now Yahoo says 600 U.S. newspapers are part of the Newspaper Consortium.

APT will link together the ad inventory of those publishers, offering advertisers the ability to buy search, display, local, mobile or video ads, Yahoo said.

Yahoo’s strength has been in display advertising area, while Google has built its business on text-based ads that can be incorporated into Web sites with similar content. Google, however, is also diversifying its system for display ads and Microsoft also remains a key player.

Two newspapers, the San Francisco Chronicle and the San Jose Mercury News, will use APT, Yahoo said. The publications are part of a Newspaper Consortium established in 2006, in which the papers share ad revenue with Yahoo in exchange for technical assistance.

Yahoo said more of the consortium’s 784 newspapers will adopt APT through next year.

APT can serve ads, meaning it places an ad in the right spot at the right time on a publisher’s site. It also is its own ad network, which links advertisers and publishers, and an ad exchange, where ads can be bought and sold. Ad exchanges help publishers find ads to show when they have unsold spaces.

Yahoo says APT can deliver ads based on where a person is browsing the Internet from and based on their online behavior. Those targeting capabilities are increasingly being demanded by advertisers, who don’t want to spend money showing ads to people who are likely not interested in their product.

Publishers have a couple problems with the way they sell ads now, Yahoo said in a preview of the system. When an advertiser approaches and wants, for example, 2 million impressions for a campaign advertising a new car, the publisher must use their ad systems to find out if they can deliver that many impressions. The process can take up to 15 minutes, which Yahoo describes as slow.

If the publisher can’t deliver that many impressions, they must look to other Web sites to share in the deal. That typically involves phones calls, which starts another slow process by another publisher to see if they have inventory and can deliver a certain number of impressions, Yahoo said.

APT wraps up the ability to see others’ available ad space as well as a publisher’s own through a Web-based interface, speeding up the ad placement process. Yahoo also describes it as a stock market for ads, with competitive bidding, as well as the ability to do behavioral, demographic and geographic targeting.

APT also has other tools for publishers, such as managing the schedule of when ads will be shown and tools that help ensure all available ad space is sold.

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